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Directions: On the lake-front lane parallel to (and below) 25 Xuan Dieu. Turn off Xuan Dieu at the Sheraton entrance, then a quick right.Phone: unknown
No 13, Hang Dieu street, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi
“You should definitely check out their website hanoiapartment.com - most accurate information and photos that I could find among other sources. You'll be provided with the best properties available, honest pros and cons for every property, fair prices. No bullshit, no waste of time, your interests...”
Waaaaa why why why did it take me so long to find this place? I came last Sunday night only because two of my children at Blue Dragon work there, and I wanted to visit them. This place totally blew my expectation.
Tucked away in the same tiny alley with Dieu's Cuisine, it was impossible for my friends who had never been there (or known that alley existed) to find. They waited for me at Tracy's and I came over to pick them up. No biggies. Just remember that it's actually the alley parallel to Xuan Dieu curving AROUND the lake, a sharp left from Sheraton.
Red River Tea Room has outside seating, which was occupied, so we happily walked in as we'd love the AC maybe a bit more than the wonderful lakeside view. The place was perhaps full close to its capacity, yet it remained super quiet (in a good way) and calm. No obnoxious drunk and loud Tays. Only chill music on the background. Yet it didn't seem dead like my other favorites Tadioto and ATK on a low night, perhaps thanks to cozy lighting and friendly, smiling servers.
The three of us got a bottle of house white, French and awesome at only 330k. I had to ask my friend if I was too drunk (downed a bottle of lousy zinfandel at home before I went out) and overestimated this bottle. It wasn't too extraordinary, but very decent at that price. Other places would charge about 600-700k for the same bottle.
Can't complain a thing about the service (if you know me you'd know I can be an elitist prick about this, especially when it comes to wine). The servers were very well-mannered, friendly but not overly so, not at all making us feel uncomfortable even though I know two of them personally.
At first the boy mistook our order and brought out a bottle of red, and we were not paying attention so he opened it and poured a bit out for one of us to taste. When our airy heads turned around and realized he brought the wrong bottle, he immediately took it away WITHOUT COMPLAINING, WHINING, OR EVEN INDICATING THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF DISCONTENT. No further question asked. No dumb excuse. No "Oh sorry, would you mind taking this one instead?" Err, are we still in Hanoi? What just happened??
The white bottle came out right after that, well-chilled in a bucket of ice. The servers regularly came back to refill our glasses when we were lost in our drunk conversation.
Another reason to support Red River Tea House is the good deeds they're doing for the society. They employ at least two of Blue Dragon's children, one of which was homeless and the other lost both of his parents at a young age. Both of them are now living in Blue Dragon's shelter home. Red River Tea Room opens the door for them and provides them training, offering them a chance to a brighter future.
EDIT: Wow, not two, but SIX Blue Dragon kids!
If you want to work on your laptop, listen to Bob Dylan, sip on a Beerlao or down a jug of Sangria by yourself, with an air conditioned view of West Lake, Red River Tea Room (RRTR) is your joint.
The secret hack: you can order delivery from local restaurants like Tracys, Dieu’s Cuisine and the Kitchen.
Yes, you heard that right. You can order from some of your favorite restaurants and eat their food in the Red River Tea Room. It’s pure genius on Jim’s part, the owner of RRTR. Many a times, it’s my dealmaker, getting me to go to RRTR, when I was considering going to Tracys for a Nha Que burger, but don’t want to sit in a claustrophobic sardine pub, victim to watching Grand Prix racing or golf. Ew.
Try their cocktail, the Che Guava, and check the awesome, awesome picture of Uncle Ho Chi Minh in the menu.
Best bar in Hanoi without exception!
The owner Jim just gets it and knows exactly what his customers want.
Great atmosphere at any time of the day and with the new roof terrace opening soon RRTR is destined to get even better.
You can order in food from anywhere you like and the staff (who are also excellent) will lend you plates and cutlery.
They also now have a wide selection of English and Irish ciders!
The closest thing to a proper pub Hanoi has (or needs). A simple place with the right priorities. You go to drink, unwind, chat with a minimum of distractions or interruptions. Has regulars, but they mostly keep to themselves and don't try to turn the joint into their "turf" (unlike many smaller bars in Hanoi I could name).
A thoroughly *expat* bar.
Lands somewhere between classic and cliche. No nonsense.
Owner runs a tight ship, from the looks of things; feels very consistent.
Alright, so I tried to take a lighthearted stance on getting charged for drinks I didn't order. Then, the owner leans on the site operators, and they ask that I consider editing my review. Fine. I edit, they remove all of that section as not review material. Fine again. I guess we know where their allegiances lie.
So you make up your own mind. Here is what happened:
We chat briefly with the owner while finishing our final drinks of the evening. We'd both already said that we were going after this one (before said owner showed up at the table).
As he leaves our table, he points to the bartender and gestures to our table. We assume this is for another round on him, as the bartender never spoke to us and two more drinks showed up. Happens in bars like this all the time.
We hadn't planned to stay for another, but it would seem quite ungrateful and just unfriendly to refuse the two drinks after our chat with him. What are we going to do? Refuse them with, "I'm sorry, but these drinks have arrived with an ambiguous billing status"? They were already poured. Even if we send them back with the premise that we were leaving, we end up looking like right pricks since they'll have to get flushed down the sink. We did what anybody would do and accepted them with thanks.
Then, the bill comes and there they are. What now? Refuse to pay for them after drinking them? Have a drawn out talk about assuming they were on the house because we didn't order them and the owner clearly did? It's a very awkward situation, and we're not backpackers counting every sous. Since we intended to be back on occasion, it was just easier to pay the bill, laugh about it, and make light of it in an otherwise middling review of a place I don't really feel strongly about one way or another.
Again, for those that this might be a bigger deal for, make sure the owner and his bartender have ironed out the wrinkles in their semaphore before assuming the drinks are on the house.
If you like Red River Tea Room...